Good City Brewing plans to move office and warehouse operations to the Century City business park on Milwaukee’s northwest side and hopes to establish brewery operations there within two years.
The East Side brewery will buy the 53,000-square-foot Century City One industrial building near the corner of West Capitol Drive and North Hopkins Street. The company will occupy the southern portion of the building and seek tenants to occupy the rest. General Capital Group co-developed the building with the city of Milwaukee.
Mayor Tom Barrett and city officials joined the company in announcing the deal.
“Thanks a lot,” Good City co-founder Dan Katt said to Barrett just before the press conference.
“Thanks a lot to you,” Barrett responded.
The city and General Capital have been searching for more than two years to find a tenant for the building, the first constructed following the city’s purchase to redevelop much of the former A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive site.
City leaders have compared the potential of Century City to the Menomonee Valley, which has seen a number of manufacturers and other businesses locate there following city investment.
“Just as Palermo’s recognized the potential of the Menomonee Valley, Good City Brewing recognizes the potential of Century City,” Barrett said.
Despite the construction of a brand new industrial building, the Century City project has not gained traction in recent years, although officials have said there has been interest. They also said they were looking for the right businesses that would bring a significant number of jobs. The development plan for the park set a target of 15 jobs per acre.
While the six to 10 office jobs and two to four warehouse jobs Good City will initially bring to the site might fall short of those targets, Department of City Development commissioner Rocky Marcoux said he has confidence the building will be filled in the near future and used for beer production.
“I think our biggest disappointment to date, and I think the mayor has spoken to it in many ways, is that the larger business community has not responded (to embrace Century City),” Marcoux said. “Now we have somebody in the business community who is young, who gets it, who understands where the future of the city is, because he wants to be part of the future of the city and he wants to help shape it. And that’s what we’ve got in Good City.”
Barrett began has remarks by acknowledging the shooting death of a Milwaukee police officer last night, calling it “a sad morning” in the city.
“When you look at what’s going on in this city, sometimes it’s hard to separate all the great things from the challenges that we face,” the mayor said.
He said the best way to address those challenges is with the creation of new jobs.
“If you provide economic opportunity, we will have enlightened business people who recognize the importance of this location and recognize the potential of this location,” Barrett said. “I am very pleased to announce today that good city brewing is that business that has the foresight, that has the vision and has the momentum to choose this site for its operations “
Katt recalled a conversation 10 years ago with his eventual co-founder David Dupee where the two, along with their wives, decided they would commit to the city of Milwaukee. That commitment eventually led to the start of Good City Brewing two years ago with former Lakefront Brewery plant manager Andrew Jones.
“Mostly this is a lot of fun for us because it’s kind of living out what we believe as people in the way that our business works,” Katt said of the decision to buy the Century City building.
Good City opened in the former Crank Daddy bicycle shop on Farwell Avenue on the East Side in 2016 and in less than a year announced plans to expanded into the adjacent space and add a rooftop bar. In April 2017 the brewery inked a distribution deal with Beechwood Sales and Service to help continue its growth.
Earlier this year Good City announced it would open a second production facility and tap room in the Entertainment Block near the new Milwaukee Bucks arena (the Fiserv Forum) downtown.
The brewery’s production has steadily increased since opening, averaging 261 barrels per month for the six-months ending in May, according to state Department of Revenue records. For the same period last year Good City averaged 130 barrels.
Katt said the company began looking for new space this spring as it has largely run out of room for production at the Farwell location.
“We have some room over there to make more beer, but we don’t really have any room to support making more beer,” he said, adding that materials often have to arrive at the last minute and equipment has to move in and out of the building daily to make room.
He said Good City looked at a number of locations including the former Fazio Automotive building across Farwell from the current facility, near west side locations off Clybourn Street and some options closer to downtown.
When he initially toured the Century City One building, he was impressed, but knew Good City did not need the entire space.
“As we got further along and looked at other spaces, there’s just not much out there,” Katt said. “For our immediate need, this was the best possible space, not even close. Everything else was kind of like our building on Farwell, it’s like low ceilings and you can’t really store anything and it’s overpriced and there’s no loading docks, and all the stuff you run into in the city.”
“We didn’t necessarily feel like we had to fill the whole building, but we could participate in helping fill the building and get more businesses up here.”
The deal still needs final approvals from various city panels and Katt said Good City is targeting an Oct. 1 closing. The brewery does have approval for temporary occupancy and plans to begin moving in as soon as possible.
He said Good City has spent a lot of time dealing with production issues caused by space limitations.
“There’s not going to be long-term stress over always needing to be looking for the next space because we have it here,” he said.